Thursday, March 31, 2016

Update 1st April

RTE  | The Easter 1916/2016 Commemoration

One has to applaud the RTE coverage of the 1916/2016 commemoration. RTE certainly stretched its resources to the limit. While I did not watch ‘all’ of the coverage as that would be very time consuming I did get to see a good cross-section of it. The Dublin parade on Sunday was very impressive with the National Services past and present to the fore. The weather, though cold, was complicit by according a bright backdrop to all the pomp and circumstance. The President Michael D. Higgins got as Pat Clarke might say ‘Man of the Match’ throughout the proceedings. Michael D. actually lectured me -with other people- at UCG many moons ago when he was there in the Sociology and Politics Department. One can be confident that when he takes to the rostrum to give an address that it will be done with style and content. I’ll forgive him his tendency towards being somewhat pompous with a rare developed accent for a Clare man.

The initial Sunday wreath laying ceremonies opposite the GPO were affecting with the Proclamation reverberating through O’Connell Street as it did all those years ago. Indeed I remember our own Tom Ryan as a Proclamation reader at an Easter Parade some years ago. The highlight here, for me, was the army band in their traditional blue and red with four great standards, the haunting Yeat’s poem ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’, an Irish anthem even if composed in England i.e. ‘Danny Boy’, Sean O’Riada’s powerful film theme music for Mise Eire’ with the National Anthem’.

It was reassuring to see Martin McGuinness the Northern Ireland Deputy first Minister on the podium taking the salute from the Official Army of the State. Martin has crossed from the dark side so smoothly. The prominence of Donie Cassidy, near the former Fianna Fail Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowan, was less assuring.  I may just have missed them but I did not see my heroes of recent Irish history represented i.e. the SDLP’s Seamus Mallon and John Hume. We hear little of the SDLP today.

The crowd really got into the spirit of the occasion obviously enjoyed it and felt that being it was an occasion for the memory archive.

On Monday President Higgins, a former Labour minister, was present at Liberty Hall for the raising the Starry Plough flag to commemorate James Connolly who was so central to the original 1916. Indeed Connolly and the Citizen Army had to be reined in by the IRB as they were threatening to go it alone with their own ‘Rising’ at that time. Much of the content of the Proclamation was the work of Connolly. Perhaps I missed the story of Connolly on TV but he was a very interesting and obviously intellectual man who was born in Edinburgh, spent a number of years in the British army but became involved with the founder of the British labour Party Keir Hardie, spent time in the US, wrote ‘Labour in Irish History’, worked with James Larkin and founded the Citizens Army. He was a very different branch in the leadership of 1916 and might have cast a very jaundiced eye on the reviewing platform on Sunday and the Ireland of today. I digress as is my wont.

I caught up with a Sunday concert in Collins Barrack’s last Wednesday night with its repeat transmission on RTE. While a good deal of it was ‘heavy’ to my rustic ear it was inclusive in that it had some 1000 members of choirs from around the country and also a large number of children singing, some from Culfadda was it? There was a special piece composed by Shaun Davey with a long ‘poem’ by Paul Muldoon. The orchestra was directed by David Brophy who has done some work with ‘down and outs’ in terms of getting them to sing as a choir for TV. One could nearly feel the cold as the performers struggled. Zoe Conway a classical and traditional performer was one who people might remember from Boyle Arts some years ago performing in the Church of Ireland.

Monday was an ‘open’ day in Dublin with numerous events and I am told by someone who was there that it was a great experience.

‘Centenary’ Show

Anyway the highlight concert of the weekend, ‘Centenary’, was on Monday night in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre with what is sometimes referred to as an ‘eclectic’ gathering of performers. ‘Centenary’ featured singers including Imelda May, Colm Wilkinson, Sean Keane, musicians Sharon Shannon and Donal Lunny and numerous dance troupes in a 85-minute celebration of Ireland and its representation. The show also included filmed inserts with a reading of The Proclamation from Irish people around the world which seemed to hit a particular chord with viewers.

The show was watched by nearly a half a million people last Monday night on RTÉ One and I imagine it was watched by many Irish people abroad via the various media outlets. If you did not see it I recommend it and I presume it can still be viewed on iPlayer or wherever.

So the weekend was not just a Commemoration of 1916 it was a cultural festival.

With all the old songs being sung one I remember my father singing, it must have been around the 1966 with the 50th anniversary of the Rising was

‘Three Coloured Ribbon’    

All around my hat I wear the tricolour ribbon
All around my hat, until death comes to me
And if anybody's asking why do I wear it
It's all for my true love, I never more shall see.

War of Independence |  Picture Exhibition in King House

A picture exhibition portraying the personnel and activities in the Boyle area during the War of Independence was opened in King House on Saturday last, March 26th, by the Boyle 1916/2016 Commemoration Committee. The special guest on the occasion was renowned musician Matt Molloy, from Ballaghaderreen whose father was imprisoned in King House but was helped to escape by the local volunteers.

It is an impressive display and future generations will be well served by the research work done by such committees. The audience was entertained by Lizzie Brennan’s ‘Abbey Community College’ traditional group with some lovely music and some of those iconic songs dealing with the period including the heartfelt rendition of the song ‘Grace’ relating the story of her love for Proclamation signatory Joseph Mary Plunkett. Grace Gifford married Plunkett a few hours before his execution. His father Count Plunkett was to contest and win the famous North Roscommon bye-election in early 1917.

It was nice to see Matt Molloy join the group and it is a memory that those young musicians and singers will treasure. Matt himself played after his short address and the tune he played was appropriately enough ‘Easter -Ester- Snow’. Padraig Brennan, Secretary of the Commemoration Committee followed with his closing remarks and was quite emotive when remarking that his grandfather Pat Brennan, who was one of the prime leaders of the Old IRA in Boyle, was actually buried in Eastersnow graveyard near Croghan. So well done to all involved with the event.

We return to the King House on Friday evening next for the launch of Barry Feely’s seminal work ‘They Dared to Challenge’ covering the story of ‘The Troubles’ in the Boyle area from 1916 to 1922. It is an important record illustrated by many photographs, drawings and very significant autographs of notable participants from the struggle. It will be another important local contribution to the written record of the time.

‘Inside the GPO’ Contradiction

While I have referenced some of the fine programmes linked to the Commemoration this one on Tuesday evening was a ‘puff pastry’ contribution not worthy of being shown at this time. The reason I tuned in was to see how a homeless man, who uses the portico of the GPO as a night shelter, was treated and how he provided such a telling contrast to all the hoopla of the Commemoration. While he uses the area as his sleeping location he is moved on early in the morning so as not to endanger the image of the building. Apparently, while homeless, he is an actor Tommy KD who can be seen on the TV advertisement for the Dublin Simon Community filmed at various locations like the GPO, the Four Courts, Mount Street Bridge, Moore Street and Dublin Castle. In the ad. Tommy carries a sleeping bag emblazoned with the 1916 Proclamation ‘cherishing all of the children of the nation equally’ and all that. The reality is that there are people in Dublin City and throughout the country still fighting for their lives and dying on the streets of the capital because of homelessness. This really hit the headlines in December 2014 with the death of Jonathan Corrie near Leinster House.

While I have spoken well of the Commemoration activity festival, which is all transient, perhaps a tangible 2016 monument could also have been put in place such a decent new hostel for the homeless of the capital. While this country has many positives in terms of general freedoms, elections, rights to free speech, good services in terms of health, education and so on there are deficits that are not insurmountable and homelessness is amongst those at the top of the list.

While I am at it and in case readers think that I was carried away with the TV images I have written before of reservations with the ‘blood sacrifice’ element of the Rising, the text of parts of the Proclamation ‘our gallant allies in Europe’, the military tenor of the national anthem, the fact that the 50th Anniversary of 1916 in 1966 would have contributed as a backdrop to the Northern Ireland trauma of over thirty years and so on. I hope this year’s events will not have its repercussions of that nature. I wonder too, while it is right to know our history and commend those who gave so much to establish our freedoms, I wonder are the messages being foisted on the youth of today a kind of indoctrination that we criticise in foreign states. We have seen images of children ‘re-enacting’ with cut out guns and a very good picture on the front of this week’s The Roscommon Herald of a young man in a uniform of the day with two antique guns in his belt. I’ll leave it at that. As the saying goes ‘all looks yellow to the jaundice’

Donor Awareness Week

Donor Awareness Week begins on this weekend. It must be one of the most noble acts imaginable for someone to donate a life enriching bodily organ to another person. There are approximately 700 people in Ireland awaiting life-saving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Thanks to the gift of organ donation over 3000 people in Ireland are enjoying extended life. In 2015, 266 organs were transplanted, 233 were as a result of the generosity of the families of 81 deceased donors and the remaining 33 were from living kidney donors. Health Minister Leo Varadkar launched Organ Donor Awareness Week in Dublin’s Mansion House earlier this week.

My friend John Mac Phearson, this time last year, related to me his personal experience of receiving a life enhancing organ donation, the Gift of Life, in 2011 when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He expressed his huge gratitude to those who participated in the scheme and urged people to become involved by having a donor card.  One of its great proponents is the former Derry footballer and TV analyst Joe Brolly.  Joe has himself donated a kidney to a friend.

Organ Donor cards and registration for organ donation can be done in a variety of ways and uses the most up-to-date communication technologies. The cards can be got by phoning Lo-Call 1890543639 (FreeCall) or Freetext the word Donor to 50050. You can now store organ donor card, the Ecard on Smart Mobile Phones. Simply search for Donor ECard at I Phone Store or Android Market Place. They can of course be got also at your local chemist shop.

John O’Brien R.I.P.

I wish to recognise here the passing of a John O’Brien of Abbeytown earlier this week. I met John regularly at the local shop and was friendly with him. We discussed issues of the day and he held strong views on them. We talked of football and hurling of course and he had a particular love of hurling. He was a well read and bright man  and one of his hobbies was doing The Times crossword which in a testament to a person’s mental dexterity.
He came to Boyle some fifty years ago from Laois. He worked in the forestry at Rockingham and was a very accomplished worker in that arena as his colleague Jim Clarke relayed to me. He loved the woods and nature.

He was a fine singer a dedicated member of Boyle Church Choir and they were there in force at his funeral mass to enhance the liturgy. They provided a guard of honour and a poignant round of applause as he began his final journey back to his native Mountrath.

I express my sympathy to his partner Lily, his family and friends.

At his mass a relative dedicated a very appropriate poem of Robert Frost to John ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ which opens with ‘Whose woods these are I think I know’ and ends with the following verse

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep’.

Roscommon v Mayo

Roscommon went down to a very strong Mayo team last Sunday. Physically Mayo were intimidating in areas especially the O’Sheas’. Mayo needed to win and it showed. The pitch was really unplayable but because of a number of issues the game was not called off as it might have been. I imagine the referee was of a mind to call it off but was dissuaded from doing so with such a big crowd present and other considerations. Mayo had a large vocal support at the game on Sunday.

The probability that next Sunday’s game v Dublin will not go ahead at the Hyde either and there is a possibility that it will transfer to Carrick-on-Shannon perhaps. Both teams deserve credit for delivering an entertaining game played with high levels of commitment. Roscommon’s deficits showed on Sunday and while the improvisations have worked to date the weaknesses will be exploited. Still Roscommon’s style of play based on pace and quick transfer of the ball was smothered by Mayo and the conditions and one would feel that a good day with solid underfoot conditions will be much more suited to their approach. Also when the U 21 players are totally available it will be an added bonus.

Roscommon U 21's v Mayo

Roscommon will seek to maintain their record run in this competition against Mayo in Sligo on Saturday. They have been in seven finals on the trot and are going for a third successive win. While I feel that Roscommon has a very good balanced side Mayo always have very good teams at this level also. So it is anybody’s guess how Saturday’s final will develop. Regrettably Boyle’s Evan McGrath misses the game through injury. We wish him a speedy recovery.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Update 25th March

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud/Daffodils
By  William Wordsworth  

While we are, in a calendar sense, well into spring the arrival of daffodils really endorses the spirit of the season. These beautiful flowers are particularly visible just now. They are the subject of what is regarded as the most accessible poem in the English language. The poem is usually referred to as ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth but also by its opening line, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". It is a lyric poem and the most famous work of the great English poet. It was originally published in 1807. The poem was inspired by an event which took place on the 15th of April 1802, in which Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a "long belt" of daffodils. The experience stayed with him and evolved into a poem of striking, beautiful and simple images which we can all experience at this time of year, if we take the time to dwell on this natural and beautiful phenomena.    

‘Daffodils’ William Wordsworth.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tidy Towns ‘That time of year..’
I see some references on realboyle to Tidy Towns and it is appropriate that with the introduction of summer time that the eternal ‘spring clean’ takes place. This in Boyle includes the collection of litter from roadsides. There are areas that particularly attract litter and I have mentioned recently the area between the two arches on the entrance to Lough Key Forest Park.
While Boyle has much to commend itself in terms of buildings and structure to claim itself as a ‘heritage town’ these are relegated because of the number of ‘blots’ on the landscape. As one drives through the country one sees many of the famous ‘tidy towns’ and why they regularly feature in those despatches. The primary pair in Roscommon county are Keadue and Castlecoote. I know the huge effort that goes into making those two villages look so well. The two large centres that feature regularly, that I know pretty well, are Westport and Kilkenny. They deserve all the accolades they receive. To reach their standards must engender huge pride and affirmation for people living in those places along with the obvious economic benefits. While reaching these levels would take enormous efforts and time the work of those involved in Boyle Tidy Towns are to be commended and supported.

Hilary Beirne and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York.

I thought it was past time that I paid tribute to one of Boyle’s most distinguished sons and someone I knew well as a student in St. Mary’s college. Hilary has contributed so much to his adopted city of New York with his huge commitment to their annual flagship Irish event, the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. 
Hilary Beirne is from Kilbryan Boyle and is the son  of the late Johnny Beirne, Veterinary Surgeon, and the late Ethel (nee Regan) Beirne from Cootehall, Boyle.
Hilary attended the National School at Hollymount, Ardcarne and St Mary’s College, Boyle before entering University College Galway and subsequently University College Dublin where he obtained a Degree in Agricultural Science. Prior to emigrating from Ireland, Hilary worked as an Agricultural Advisor  with Volac Feeds Ltd as Area Manager in the West of Ireland. While employed with Volac, he introduced a then new agricultural innovation into the West of Ireland “Wrapping of Baled Silage”, an innovation that can today be seen all over the west of Ireland.
In 1988 Hilary immigrated to New York and was employed by Monsignor Scanlon High School in the Bronx as a teacher  before joining the staff at Eastchester High School in Westchester County in 2001. 

Hilary Beirne is well known and respected within the Irish American Community for his work on behalf of the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade for the past 25 years. In recent years he has become one of the public representatives of the Parade giving newspaper, radio and TV interviews in matters concerning the Parade and Irish affairs. Hilary is an elected officer of the Parade Committee, and currently serves as the Parade’s Executive and Corresponding Secretary. He is a driving force within the Parade’s organization and under his Chairman’s direction the Parade has been brought into the modern technology era. He is involved in all aspects of the Parade, ensuring the operations of the largest and oldest Parade in the world run smoothly every March 17th.
In 2006, Hilary initiated the Parade’s website as a way to improve communications between the Parade Committee and the public. As a result, the Parade web site is now one of the most visited website in the world on March 17th with in excess of 3 million hits annually. In 2006, Hilary arranged for the first Grand Marshal in the history of the Parade to ring the opening bell at the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and in 2009 successfully negotiated the transition of the bell ringing ceremony from the AMEX to the New York Stock Exchange, which is watched daily by 150 million, thereby raising the profile of the parade tremendously across the world.

In 2008 he worked with WNBC’s production teams at Rockefeller Centre to launch the live web streaming of the Parade from Fifth Avenue. The web casting of the Parade has been hugely successful and along with the TV coverage around the world the parade is also watched live from along Fifth Avenue by over two million people.
He is the chairman of the Grand Marshal and Aides Reception; the largest public event in the Parade calendar after the Parade itself and coordinates the press announcement of the Grand Marshall while producing many of the Parade’s publications and press releases.
In 2011 Hilary Beirne was honoured by the Federation of Irish Societies in the UK, when he gave a keynote address at the first ever “Irish in the UK” conference in London. In 2010 he was honoured by the County Roscommon Society of New York as their guest of honour at the society’s St Patrick’s Day dance. In 2009 Hilary joined other prominent New Yorkers when he was recognized by New York University (NYU) when he was included in the Archives of Irish America at NYU’s Division of Libraries. In 2008, he was also honoured by the County Leitrim Society of New York.
Hilary is a member of the County Roscommon Society of New York and the County Leitrim Society of New York amongst other organisations.

He is married to Marguerite Beirne a prominent official with Westchester County government. They have one son Connor and reside in Larchmont, New York.

I remember Hilary at St. Mary’s College with his twin brother Kenneth as determined and diligent students. They were also involved in whatever sports obtained as members of the GAA teams and participants in the annual school sports in the ‘top field’.
So I salute this former student from St. Mary’s, applaud his achievements on a major stage and wish him and his family well into the future.

Some TV Programmes I’ve watched Recently

Michael Mallin
I have watched a number of interesting programmes in recent times. As everyone is aware there are many commemorative programmes treating of various elements of 1916. On Monday night Nationwide on RTE 1 had an affecting account of the role of one of the lesser known leaders of a 1916 combat zone, Michael Mallin. He was leader of a group of rebels for a short time in St. Stephen’s Green with Countess Markievicz.  Because of the vulnerability of the site they had to re-position to the College of Surgeons. On arrest after the surrender Mister Mallin tried to suggest that he was not a primary leader of his outpost. He had a young family with another child yet to be born. He realised that his death would leave his wife and young family in a very difficult position. However his pleas were ignored and he was one of the leaders of the Rebellion to be executed. The programme outlined the subsequent hardships of his wife and family to survive in the face of public misgivings. This they did despite a mean spirited attitude in a pension award. The primary witness in the story of Michael Mallin  was his son, a priest, resident in Hong Kong aged 102 years.
While it is an impossible question I wonder occasionally, when the Easter Rising becomes a topic, how many of the participants who marched out on that fateful Easter Monday had little realisation of what they were actually involved in?   

The Enemy Files
This was very interesting as it gave a singular view of The Rising from the perspective of the British authorities. It outlined the attitude of their establishment in the midst of a great war with reflection of the differing attitudes of the military and the loose control of the political class leading to significant mistakes which led to the resultant militant legacy of the Rising. It was presented by former British government minister Michael Portillo. I did not tune into this from the beginning so perhaps I might get a chance to see a repeat at some stage. It too was on RTE 1 on Monday night. 

True North: Crossmaglen: Field of Dreams
The name of Crossmaglen town in South Armagh resonates through the country. For some people it is because of its reputation as a hotbed of Republicanism during the Northern Ireland Troubles. However it is generally through its reputation as a powerful  GAA club which has dominated the game in Armagh for the last 20 to 25 years. Added to this is their success in Ulster extended to regular success at All-Ireland level. The two main subjects were Oisin McConville and John McEntee as managers of the team plus cameos from a number of players and also Oisin’s mother. The programme was set  against the backdrop of a British army fortress encroaching on their grounds and the war that prevailed in the area for many years. The programme will rank as one of the best GAA club profiles recorded. Still while it is very good it falls short of being a great film which, considering its background, it might have been. Two things it did hammer home were, the necessary commitment of players to their club and team and the role of the club in the community.  

Roscommon v Mayo
On Sunday next Roscommon senior footballers face another big test which is against Mayo. Roscommon are close to qualification for a league semi-final place while Mayo need points to stay in division one. So a real championship type game is assured on Sunday and it is certain to attract a big crowd. (Roscommon town also have an Easter parade on Sunday so the town is going to be a busy place then. I am told that Castlebar town postponed their St. Patrick’s Day parade until the following Sunday since a lot of people wanted to be in Croke Park for the All-Ireland club football final which they lost.) The game on Sunday will be on TG4 at some point.
Roscommon had a comfortable win over Sligo in the U 21 championship on Saturday in Sligo. While there was not the polish of their win over Galway they still have a good side with some of the lesser known players coming up trumps. They now face Mayo in the Connacht final on Saturday week April 2nd against Mayo prior to the Roscommon senior team’s last game against Dublin on the Sunday. A further big week-end for Roscommon GAA and Roscommon town.
Roscommon minors are doing well also with wins over Mayo and Sligo where it is great to see Boyle’s Cian McKeon making a big mark for himself. 

Boyle had a disappointing loss to Elphin in the senior league in Elphin on Sunday last.  While I feel that Elphin were deserving winners it was a somewhat missed opportunity for Boyle.
On Wednesday Boyle minors had a high scoring win over Michael Glavey’s in Boyle.
A big effort has been made with an important Boyle GAA club fundraiser i.e. the New York Draw 2016. The draw will take place in The Moylurg Bar on Sunday next march 27th.      

Friday, March 18, 2016

Update 18th March

Friday Night’s Late Late Show and Saturday Night’s Ray Darcy Show a Coalition?.

With all the talk of a ‘grand coalition’ between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail an idea struck me with regard to two prominent RTE television programmes. After trying to stay with The Late Late Show on Friday night and ‘The Ray Darcy Show’ on Saturday night -for analysis purposes- I felt that these two shows and the resources involved in them could easily be coalesced into just the one show. I was prompted into doing this research by an interesting page by Paul Healy in last week’s Roscommon People. I was waiting to  hear George Hook on Friday night. He was well flagged but moderate guest after moderate guest came and went until it was nearly past my bedtime and eventually the last guest came on, George Hook. It could be said that the same happened the previous week with the Healy Reas'. The guests on the Late Late Show started with singer Hozier with a song called ‘Cherry Wine’ connected to the theme of domestic violence. He is a fine singer/ guitarist and comes across as a very decent young man. Amongst the other guests was Simon Weston from the Falklands War which I suppose was the sad tale of ultimate redemption as mentioned by Paul Healy in the Roscommon People’s headline, ‘The Late Late; Where misery is light entertainment…’While the house band is very good I had never heard of the two guest groups Little Green Cars and Aoifa Scott. Tubridy has a habit of saying ‘I liked that’ and ‘Will you come back again soon?’ One is entitled to say ‘I liked that’ occasionally but when the viewer is saying it before the presenter it must be a tad too regular. I remember Cyril Farrell being hooked on saying about Damien Hayes or Eddie Brennan  having  ‘Great pace Ger’ to his companion analyst Ger Loughnane. Then came the black comedian Reginald D. Hunter who I like but he did not get much help from Ryan who was more into biographical detail than humour. Reginald had two good quips that I remember, saying he happy with the Christian name Reginald as it got him ‘past the phone interview’ and asked what he’d do if Trump became US President answered; ‘I’d come live in Ireland’. There were a couple of forgettable fillers. Eventually George Hook arrived. He must have anticipated that Ryan Tubridy was going to give him a hard time but Hook came out swinging on the topic of ‘concussion’ and Ryan hardly got out of his corner.
The show went on from 9.35 to 11.45 i.e. 2 hours 10 minutes including ads. I doubt if there is a ‘chat show’ anywhere which is given so much time and rightly so. In between is the draw with the daft question such as; which of these is the capital of England Paris, New York or London. To answer, one has make a text contribution at an inflated cost, which, as Arthur Daley used say, must be a ‘nice little earner’ for the show’s balance sheet. Just in case you missed the show or wish to see it again it is repeated on Monday night. Apparently it gets high audience figures. How do they actually measure these figures?

On Saturday it Ray D’Arcy. I am not a fan of Ray’s giddy style. He gave a generous wedge of time, nearly half an hour, to Aslan and Christy Dignam. Christy can still sing though even if it is a song I have heard a few times. His other guests were the O’Shea brothers, who, while earnest, were far from riveting. Their dad won 3 All-Irelands with Kerry in the fifties. A  Dublin film maker John Carney was very pleased to be promoting his film ‘Synge Street’. This show has a time slot of 9.50 to 11.10 i.e. 1 hour and 20 minutes including ads. So the time total for two similar shows is 3. 30 minutes. Lucky that there was no appearance by regulars Pippa, Twink or Amanda Brunker.

Now that I have done my research and make my recommendation for a truncated coalition I rest my case and return to the pace and quality of the Graham Norton show.

P.S. For his Late Late show plus other contributions Ryan Tubridy gets €495,000. Of course Pat Kenny was getting €950,000 in 2008. Joe Duffy earns 416 000; Marian Finucane 295, Sean O’Rourke 290 and Miriam O’Callaghan 280. I am a bit surprised to see Miriam at the bottom of the top five. Marian Finucane comes out pretty well for her two (?) radio shows.  

Roscommon continue to turn on the style.

Roscommon continued to  surprise with another vintage display against Donegal on Sunday in Letterkenny. While they are not fully assured of a league semi-final place yet, they are very close. The confidence with which the team is playing is really exciting for us supporters and Roscommon have caught the imagination of sports commentators and observers nationwide. Roscommon led on the score of 11 points to 6 at half time. Despite a Donegal rally inspired by a great effort from a magnificent Michael Murphy, aided by the introduction of veteran Christy Toye, Roscommon finished strongly with a decisive great goal from Cathal Cregg on 24 minutes into the second half showing the way home. Roscommon were convincing winners on the score of, Roscommon 1.19 Donegal 0.17. Once again it was a full team performance with outstanding performances all over the field. My ‘Man of the Match’ would go to Cathal Cregg, not for the first time. His goal was a cracker at a vital stage. Fintan Cregg, Davy Murray, Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins, Conor Devaney and Niall Daly were others to really shine. But as I said it was a total team show with substitute Cathal Compton also impressing in a short space of time. The quality of the point scoring was a joy to watch and the support play was awesome. The attention to ball possession has been a revelation with the quality of the hand and foot passing being such a transformation to what has frustrated us in recent years. I imagine the squad and all involved have to enjoying it all as much as we are. Playing before big knowledgeable crowds against quality opposition with generous media coverage must be very satisfying for all involved. It has to be said that these games are played in a very good spirit where the emphasis on playing the game as it should and could be played which is what is so enjoyable. Roscommon supporters as they travel through the country are feeling the reaction and comment on their side’s quality of play

‘The Car Load’

One of the pleasures of travelling to games is the bond that develops between the regular ‘car load’. The regular car loads from the various towns and clubs are readily identifiable. I first experienced this as a teenager when following Roscommon in ’61 and ’62 especially the ‘broke crossbar’ day. While three of the journeys to recent games have been long for our driver they have been shortened for us passengers by fun stories and anecdotes covering a broad canvass. Of course the fact that the team has been winning and playing champagne football has heightened the experience. Last Sunday was a fine day for a game and the game itself was a treat. The Donegal ambience was welcoming and the service of a shuttle bus was an innovative gesture. The journey home was relaxed with nothing but positivity. To cap off the occasion with fine food ‘under bare Ben Bulben’ was a perfect ending to a grand positive day.

The Roscommon support is beginning to gain momentum so there will be a big crowd in Hyde Park on Easter Sunday for the game against Mayo.
On Saturday Roscommon minors and U 21 team are playing Sligo. Both games may be in Sligo. On Sunday it is back to the bread and butter of club football as Boyle play Elphin in the division one league.

Trump Watch

Reginald D. Hunter-above- suggested that Donald Trump first honed in on Mexicans being a real issue for the United States and he was advocating a wall to keep them out .Reginald also suggested that some Mexican mobster threatened to do the ultimate to Trump and that influenced him, as it might, to veer away from that mantra which he has now replaced it with an anti-Muslim one.

Beware of Scams

There is a famous saying ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Apparently the origin of this was with the Trojan Horse gift left outside the walls of Troy. A very upset gentleman from Kildare called Joe Duffy on Tuesday to relate how he was robbed of €1000 by two ‘gentleman’ who came looking for a ‘bit of work’. It started with them suggesting that they would clean the clogged gutters for €40 and this multiplied to loose slates and moss on the roof and on the driveway. Anyway Jim made the mistake of giving these people the toe-hold of doing anything. In the heel of the reel, the classic one at the front door while a second explored the house, successfully via the back door followed. He was robbed of €1000 and other personal items.
Senior people, especially living alone, are particularly targeted and it is understandable that they often get caught. It is probable that in the near future there will be cctv cameras on houses as well as alarms. I am a big believer in the ‘pendant’ alarm and I imagine it could be useful in these situations. Also the chain and spy hole on the front door are to be recommended. The reality is do not engage at all if at all possible.

Well done Abbey Community College Ladies

Abbey Community College Ladies Junior team who won a first title when they defeated Colaiste Bhaile Chlair, Claregalway in the Connacht Junior C Final in the Centre of Excellence, Ballyhaunis, last week.
I see it got a good splash in the Roscommon Herald this week.
Well done also to Boyle U 16s’ who defeated Eire Og on Saturday.
Boyle Feile team who will representing Roscommon in the national Feile finals at the end of June will be participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Aishling Dolan in New Zealand

Hi to Aishling Dolan in New Zealand and a happy St. Patrick’s Day to you. I missed you from my short list recently. Mea culpa.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Update 11th March

****N.B. If you are travelling to the game in Letterkenny on Sunday allow plenty of time as there are major, time-delaying, road works between Donegal town and Ballybofey.

Roscommon three in a row
Roscommon 1.12 v Down 0.6 at Longford.
Three wins in a row now for Roscommon and against names with real pedigree, Kerry, Cork and Down. Down really played to form in that they are but a shadow of the Down teams one expects. On a good day I would make a shot at naming the full Down team from 1960 and the changes for ’61. I would name perhaps two players from their current squad. Like a good few Roscommon supporters I was a bit embarrassed in having to go outside the county to play a county senior game. I do not know what the issue is that has made Hyde Park unplayable but if the Mayo and Dublin games have to move it will be very serious indeed. I see a number of references to this in the Roscommon People and for the first time the business interests in Roscommon town rightly expressing their frustration.
The Longford pitch was no Wimbledon either but then beggars and all that. It is lucky also that it was not really raining since the stand was closed. A lot of negativity there.       
Anyway on Sunday Roscommon had to put in a workmanlike performance which saw them pull away to a comprehensive win in the end. There was a slow start and the champagne football of the Cork game was missing but then we had enough for two games there. Roscommon led by 7 points to 4 at half time with Ciaran Murtagh responsible for 4, two of them frees. Down managed just 2 points in the second half while Roscommon kept the scoreboard ticking over slowly and it was the goal, from a penalty, at the end which locked the door. Again it was the two Creggs, Fintan and Cathal along with Ciaran Murtagh who stood out up front. Ian Kilbride put in a lot of work at midfield while the Roscommon full back line with McDermott and Collins driving forward.  Sean Purcell marshalled the half back line excellently and Davy Murray is really getting about the field with great energy. Obviously the fitness levels in the Roscommon team are at a high.
Next Sunday is a really stern test and if Donegal continue the physicality they adopted v Kerry it will be a real challenge to a Roscommon side which is lighter and more reliant on mobility as a weapon than physical challenges.
As the jockey answered when asked which fence he feared most in the Aintree Grand National course, “Always the next one”.   

Healy Renua
It was tweeted that the only Renua TDs elected were the Healy Reanuas. They certainly confuse me and what I might feel as being appropriate for our national parliament. However the Kerry electorate ‘have spoken’ and are comfortable with the growth of a very different brand of political dynasty in Michael and Danny Healy Rea being backed up with two siblings ‘seconded’ to Kerry County Council as their substitutes. That Danny Healy Rea should decide to give a recital of traditional music on the steps of Leinster House was like a scene from the film ‘Far and Away 2’.   

Searching for a Government
52 new TDs began their career today and the suggestion that ‘a new way for doing politics’ got a quick shift when the parties began nominating ‘their’ people for the position of Ceann Comhairle. The Fianna Fail spokesman seems to be Dara Colleary. Now I am always hoping for a Mayo All-Ireland win when they are thereabouts and number many Mayo people as friends but I hope somebody tells Dara that he is in danger of becoming an Enda heavy with the potential opprobrium that can follow.
The present political circus has political observer/commentator Noel Whelan - just as I write- giving me the line; “We are seeing the most cynical and disingenuous political manoeuvring seen for a long time”      

Kieran Emmett Concert.
On Friday night the 4th there was a very enjoyable concert remembering Kieran Emmett who died ten years ago. There was a full house in the Saloon of King House and a very good atmosphere as a variety of performers did their piece with many of them recollecting Kieran with anecdotes reminiscing on a larger than life character. Bernie Flaherty and Joe Kennedy introduced the evening followed by a set from a very relaxed Charlie McGettigan now living in Drumshambo where Kieran held court on many occasions. Long-time friends, members of the Finn family from Ballymote, Tommy on banjo and Mary on accordion accompanied by Fiona Doherty on fiddle and bodhran and bones maestro Junior Davey performed a very well received set. Frankie Simon accompanied by Sarah Egan closed the first half with Frankie exhibiting his huge and innovative talent on the guitar.
The second half commenced with an excerpt from Boyle Community Radio in 1983 where Kieran gives an entertaining take on his world. Hearing his voice was a nostalgic and emotional reprise and one felt his spirit through the evening. Fermanagh singer Rosie Stewart who would have met Kieran many times at Drumshambo’s Mooney Summer School        
Followed with a three songs including one sparkling with humours. From Oldcastle in Meath came the Farrelly brothers Brendan and Ollie accompanied by Willie Cryan from Carrick-on-Shannon and Boyle’s fine singer Francis Gaffney with his telling rendition of the fate of the North-West explorer, Franklin. Members of the Emmett family Paul and Brendan closed the concert accompanied by friends Noel Carberry from Longford and Ml. Banahan from Kilteevan. The concert was brought to a close with the group performing a tune composed by Kieran himself called ‘Down in the Hollow’.
The concert was very well received and many of the participants retired to Dodd’s Bar for more music and reminiscing. There was an epilogue on Saturday with sessions in a number of bars particularly in Lavin’s, The Moylurg and Dodd’s.

The Shankhill War of Independence Memorial
A bit like the Chieftain on the Curlews the War of Independence Memorial at Shankhill on the road into Elphin is one of the most iconic roadside monuments in this region. I have passed the Shankhill monument many times, surveyed it a number of times and brought visitors to it on occasion. I had it on my list to write a paragraph on it for here but the work was done for me in an unattributed piece in the Roscommon Herald of March 1st page 59. It is getting a facelift for the 1916-2016 Anniversary. Apparently the idea for such a memorial was first mooted in the 30s’ with a committee established in the 40s’ to advance and finance the project. The site was acquired from Padraig Beirne, Shankhill. Fundraising began at home and abroad and the Dublin sculptor Garry Trimble was employed to design and execute the sculpture. It was unveiled in September 1963 by Tom Maguire former Commander of the 2nd Western Division Old IRA. The memorial comprises of a 5.5 m high plinth mounted on which are three 3.6 m. figures representing IRA volunteers. A roll of honour of fallen IRA members from the county is inscribed on a tablet in book form in Irish. The roll in English was added later as was a portrait representing Padraig Pearse.
I remember my Fuerty GAA friend Mickie Connolly fundraising for it in the early sixties. While it is a very visible and worthy record, personally I think it lacks subtlety and represents the memorials of that time in that.                  

Annoying TV Ad
Perhaps it is just me but my contender for the most annoying television ad of the moment is the one featuring ‘Steve and Rachael; Rachael and Steve’ who welcome a new neighbour with “We hope you like Death Metal” and so on. It is a Bank of Ireland ad. Is there some reverse psychology at play here? I think it was Oscar Wilde who said; “There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is, not being talked about”. So perhaps it is working for Bank of Ireland as this example demonstrates.

Terry Prone
“It has been reported that political advisor and PR guru Terry Prone is taking legal action against BBC’s Graham Norton.
According to the Sunday Independent, legal correspondence has been sent by Prone, through the top legal firm Callan Tansey, over the remarks Norton made to an estimated four million listeners on his radio show on BBC2
TV chat show host Norton accidentally mistook the political advisor for Terry Keane – the girlfriend of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey”.
One thinks again of Oscar Wilde.
There is a phrase which says ‘even Homer nods’ or makes mistakes. He who never made a mistake never made anything, it is said. Apparently the BBC were slow to correct their mistake and apologise so it would seem that this could be the straw.
Brian Dobson apologised on this evening’s (Thursday) news on the double for mixing up the Skylon and Regency Hotels in relation to a prominent news story. Some staff executive had probably read the Sunday Indo.  

Northern Ireland Uisce
Apparently, talking of sensitivity, Northern Ireland ‘bates Banagher’. Some manholes, possibly sourced in Southern Ireland, were used in Ballymena with the dual mandate of Water and Uisce. This has upset a local councillor and he wants them removed. There was a film once, set in West Cork, called ‘Battle of the Buttons’. Talking of Ballymena, which is pretty rare, the council got McDonald’s to change a road sign to their franchise once. The road sign that was used initially was ‘Yield’ as used in the South and they had to change it to ‘Give Way’ which was more Northern Ireland. I would have thought myself that they neither word was in their lexicon.

Cromleach Lodge Shock Closure
I accidentally heard the Joe Duffy radio show being on in the background that the Cromleach Loge Hotel near Castlebaldwin had closed suddenly. A young lady had phoned the Joe Duffy show in distress regarding her wedding reception arrangements there in May. It was obvious from Joe’s reaction that he was pretty shocked himself as he apparently has been to the hotel a number of times and was very complimentary of it. While the wedding of lady who rang the show is in May I imagine that there are weddings booked for over the Easter period and this must pose almost insurmountable alternative arrangements and great distress for the couples involved. This is another classic example of the supposed rising tide not keeping this iconic business premises afloat.

Kilkenny Football
A story doing the smart aleck rounds involves a known Kilkenny hurler playing a competitive football match enquiring when the ball went out over the sideline ‘Do I kick it in or throw it in?’ 


Friday, March 4, 2016

Update 4th March

Patricia O’Flaherty Retiring from Boyle Library

Patricia presenting certificates to competition prizewinners

Patricia O’Flaherty will be retiring from Boyle Library from the end of next week. Patricia has a been a real asset to the library service in Boyle for nearly twenty years. The Library at King House was opened in July 1996 and Patricia joined the service in November of that year. Boyle Library, in the basement of King House, is one of the nicest libraries to be found anywhere. Indeed Roscommon County is privileged to have a number of fine libraries such as Boyle, Roscommon, Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen. These are hugely important to the local community. In my experience the staff in those libraries have been first class, none more so than in Boyle. Not only did Patricia set the service standard in Boyle it was evident that she enjoyed her role and was proud of her environment. Over the twenty years she has been involved in numerous Library initiatives and has generously assisted various groups. Patricia was involved with the Moylurg Writers group which has left us a particular legacy with its two volume publication on the local history of Boyle and its social, sporting and community organisations.    
Patricia also facilitated Boyle Library Book Club one of whose driving forces has been Margaret Mulligan. Patricia has guided many people on the right path who have used the library to assist them in local history and especially with genealogical research.
The library has always been on hand to help with events and exhibitions during the Arts Festival. A regular feature has been the Camera Club exhibition. I also remember a GAA exhibition there at one time with other exhibitions national and local promoted by the County Library Services. Another very successful event promoted by the library has been the annual National Schools Quiz in which I was initially involved with my friend John Mac Nama. A number of well- known writers have also visited and given readings in the Library including Gerry Boland, Peter Regan and Jennifer Johnstone.  A highlight of Patricia’s time in Boyle Library was the launch, by local star Chris O’Dowd, of ‘Moone Boy The Blunder Years’ which he had co-authored with his friend Nick V. Murphy. In our casual conversation -not intended for this treatment -she paid tribute to many colleagues over the years and especially to County Librarian, Richie Farrell. So I am sure I am not alone in expressing my thanks and appreciation to Patricia for her courtesy and assistance over the years and wishing her bon voyage in her retirement and in whatever enterprises she may now adopt.

Managing players, managing addiction’ Roscommon hurling manager Justin Campbell being interviewed by Seamus Duke for the Roscommon People.

This was a very important interview by Seamus Duke with Justin Campbell in the Roscommon People of Friday February 26th (last week) page 32. In it Justin deals with the problem of alcohol addiction and the growth of gambling addiction. Justin was on the Galway hurling team that lost the All-Ireland Final of 1993 to Kilkenny and at the pinnacle of his career he became addicted to alcohol. He had a number of personal tragedies in his life, with the deaths of both his parents when he was 11 and 14. After successful treatment for his own alcohol problem he became an ‘Addiction Counsellor’ and has become part of the GAA’s Health and Wellbeing Committee. While the threat of alcohol addiction is well flagged it is what Justin has to say about Gambling Addiction that rings further alarm bells. “The gambling problem is exploding at the moment and is a huge issue with young people now” the interview relates, continuing “…many news report about major young GAA figures who have come out in the past few years to admit that they were addicted to gambling” . The problem is increased by the easy access to gambling, online. It is suggested that that online betting provides 77% of the income of betting companies’. “Drugs is not near as big a problem as gambling or alcohol” according to Justin. Justin now visits colleges, schools and clubs with his message and hopes that every club will have a dedicated Health and Wellbeing Officer. He suggests that coaches be on the look-out for signs of addiction in young players and act appropriately. Justin is available to talk about addiction issues to any group or individual and can be contacted on 086 8840469 or you can access his web site – If you have an interest in this article I suggest you source it online as it a clear warning of a growing issue of huge importance.                         

Roscommon GAA-A Major Week-End Past.

I received the following email from Club Rossie early this week regarding renewal of Club Rossie membership. The reason I copy it to the blog is that it clearly highlights one very good week-end for Roscommon GAA on many fronts.

“Dear Tony
Today is a rare day for Roscommon supporters, not just because it's February 29th, but because we are all reflecting on a great weekend for Gaelic Games in the County. A weekend where 
•  Our Senior Football Team travelled to Cork, scored 4-25 and gave the home side their first League defeat in Pairc Ui Rinn for three years
•   Where our Junior Camogie Team travelled to Cavan, scored 2-15 and only conceded 3 points
•   Where our Intermediate Ladies Footballers travelled to Down and came home with their third win of the season
•  Where our Minor Camogie Team began the defence of their All-Ireland title with an away win against Laois
•  Where the Roscommon CBS Hurling team, featuring the majority of our Minor Hurling Team, defeated a Galway team to win a Connacht Senior title

Rare days, and weekends, like this are great.
We want as many days and weekends like this throughout the year. Every year.
To do this takes support and money.
We want and need you to renew your Membership of Club Rossie as soon as possible to help achieve these things.

David O'Connor,
Club Rossie Chairperson”

Roscommon’s Great Win

Roscommon 4.25 Cork 3.10

On a sunny day in a lovely ground on the banks of the Lee I was one of a substantial number of Roscommon supporters who were privileged to see one of the best performances by the Roscommon Senior footballers for decades. In 1979 Roscommon also defeated Cork in the League Final in Croke Park on the score of Roscommon 0.15 Cork 1.3. I imagine most of you are now attuned to the headline features of the team’s performance of last Sunday. They led by 2.13 to Cork’s 1.7 at half time. All 2.13 came from play. They ended up on 4.25 with 4.21 from play. Twelve players scored. Roscommon had a number of players in contention for ‘Man of the Match’ an accolade I would give to Fintan Cregg, a great asset this year. There were outstanding performances all over the field with Cathal Cregg, Conor Murtagh, Cian Connolly, Conor Devaney and Senan Kilbride starring in an exhibition of forward play. I have always felt that Geoffrey Claffey is a fine goalkeeper and a number of years ago should have been and All-Star contender. His kick-outs on Sunday were exemplary in their precision. The quality of the long foot-passing into the forward players, at the right height, was real bonus. One could go on. The blemish was in the fact that Cork scored 3.10. It must also be borne in mind that Cork had a horror day. A Cork supporter is said to have tweeted that as he left the ground shortly after half-time he was accompanied by a number of the Cork players!
Next Sunday Roscommon take on Down in Hyde Park. Down were well beaten by Kerry on Sunday and Roscommon beat them twice last year in the League. However this is a key game and I know that all Roscommon GAA interests will be taking nothing for granted. To stay in Division One would be a fine achievement and great for Roscommon football.   
 A special mention of the Boyle contributors, players and management; Sean Purcell, Enda Smith, Donie Smith- injured just now-, Tadgh Lowe, Stephen Bohan, James O'Boyle, Fergal O'Donnell, David Casey and Joe Sweeney. 

After The Election

I will not dwell too much on this as I am sure that people are spun out with the election at this stage. Though the further issue of forming some shape of a Government will be fraying through the coming weeks.  However, having said that (clichés emerging) it is now hugely important that those who lead the elected T.Ds get serious, stop posturing and form a Government that will give the country some guidance through the uncertain future that prevails. The electorate are a vengeful force.  I would imagine that Fianna Fail as a body must be feeling that a number of their Christmases came together on February 26th. Their hierarchy could hardly believe it. In 2011 they were nearly destroyed and deservedly so.  As Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ song goes;

‘Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
‘Til it's gone’

Fianna Fail had to feel some of that since 2011. They have now been gifted with a huge early reprieve by the electorate. It could be suggested as being much too early. Surely they now have to repay the people for that, rather than start playing ‘next election’ games. Perhaps the electorate too might also feel the sting of Joni’s song!
It is something that political parties can get so arrogant so quickly. The present Government had a good deal going for it but shot itself in the foot, first with that oft used word ‘arrogance’ especially from the leadership compounded by schoolboy errors with references to ‘whingers’ and economic dunces. Then came an unusual one with a big giveaway that people rejected as inappropriate. Also there was not a real recognition that the improving economy was not embracing a large sections of the country particularly the rural areas.  
It was a critical error of the Government not to have held the election in November which led them to be backed into a corner of no choice in timing. Of course it is said the hindsight is the foresight of the gobsh***. Now, in a period inclusive of our national holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, followed by the 1916 Centenary Commemorations we are down to a caretaker Government.
A coalition or a national Government is not going to be easy to put together but the elected TDs have a duty to the electorate and the country. I remember a national government being mooted at the peak of the crisis circa 2009/10.
The issue of the Water Charges and organisation of a water utility has ended up in a huge mess. I believe that a national water provision utility (as it is referred to) is vital for many reasons. I am also not averse to paying at a reasonable rate for water. But it has become such an emotive and paralysing issue that it seems almost impossible to resolve.
It is now up to the elected players. We live in uncertain times. It’s tiring.

Stutterer Short Film Oscar
Stutterer a short drama film written and directed by Dubliner Benjamin Cleary was one of the two Irish Oscar winners on Sunday night. I actually saw this ten minute film on RTE One on Friday the 26th. Perhaps it will now be reshown. It is a clever little film with a twist. I recommend it. (For a similar ‘twist’ I recommend Chris O’Dowd’s acceptance speech at the Spirit of Ireland Awards, New York, St. Patrick’s Day 2013 on YouTube)   

Respect for The National Flags
As one goes around the country one can clearly observe the national flag being flown in various degrees of repair or disrepair. There is a booklet on all the protocols for the flying of the flag. One regularly ignored is that it should only fly from sunrise to sunset. It should not be defaced with slogans or pictures. It should not be allowed to touch the ground and so on. I know that in Boyle GAA ground we have our own ex- army flag man and we can rest assured, when he is around, that the national flag gets the appropriate treatment. The coming weeks are particularly sensitive ones for the flying of the flag.
I see in New Zealand that they are going through an extensive decision making process on whether to change their flag design or retain it as it is.  

1.      Might I mention some emigres like Lukie Brennan, Seamus Gallgher, Ciaran Conlon in Oz; Damien Dooley, Arnie Gaffney and Marcus Kennedy in the U.S.; Tadgh Egan in Kanada; Megan Morris, Darren Dockery and co. in the Middle East and  John Harrington and co. in London.

I looked for election ‘bumph’ last week for three Roscommon/East Galway candidates I had nothing on, Miriam Hennessy of the Greens; Mister Fallon from Tulsk and Tony Coleman from Loughglynn. If anyone has such material please forward..